A second look at Essential Apparel's offline-online sign-up process and what else is still missing.
My last column focused on the first half of an offline-online sign-up process. At the end I asked if, in the excitement of getting a special offer coupon on the thank you page, we were missing anything. Look again (below) and see if you can find it.
Notice the small print between the "Thank you for Signing Up for Our Newsletter" and the "Continue Shopping" button. It says "Please check your e-mail and confirm subscription." This is somewhat buried on the page - I wasn't even quite sure it was a double opt-in until I visited my inbox.
My work here isn't done. In order to get my special offers, I need to confirm my subscription. I don't know what Essential Apparel's double opt-in rate is (most organizations get a double opt-in confirmation rate of 60 percent to 80 percent), but if this key notice about having to take an action to get on the list were more prominent, it should increase.
The e-mail I received (below) does state the need to confirm my subscription in the subject line. But does it really need to tell me the IP address, date, and time of the opt-in? This is important information for Essential Apparel to keep in case it is ever accused of spamming me, but it really has no place in a consumer-facing e-mail. Especially not above the information about how I can confirm that I want to be on the list.
This e-mail appears to have been written by an information technology person, not a marketing manager. Essential Apparel should make the first paragraph more conversational - "We recently received notification..." - it's wordy and a bit stilted, although it's accurate. The company should eliminate the second paragraph altogether, which moves the primary call-to-action up a bit - probably even enough to ensure that it always appears in the preview pane.
The inclusion of the actual Web URL, allowing those with e-mail clients that disable links to cut and paste it into their browser, is a best practice.
It would also be nice if there were some visual branding going on here. Just a small "Essential Apparel" logo in the top left or right would do it.
Branding is also missing from the page you land on when you click through to confirm your subscription (see below).
The only place the Essential Apparel name appears is in the domain of e-mail send address. This page appears exactly as you are seeing it - there's no navigation bar, no masthead at the top with the Essential Apparel name. A simple logo at the top, or at least the company name in text, would resolve this and improve the visitor experience.
The white list request ("To ensure proper delivery...") is a best practice and this is a good place to include it. That said, if the double opt-in message was filtered as spam, it's unlikely that I'd get here. It might have been better to include this on the original thank you page (although realistically, even that might have been too late to get the double opt-in e-mail white listed).
I like that they don't dead-end people on this page - there is a link that looks like it takes you back into the Web site. But when I clicked on it - nothing happened. I didn't go anywhere. This is likely because it's set up to take you back to the "previous page" - and there is no previous page, since the visitor deep linked here from an e-mail. Essential Apparel should use a mechanism like it uses on the thank you page - a link or button that takes visitors back to shop.
It would also be nice if there was more information here to entice me back to shop. Product categories, allowing me to deep link to an area of interest, would be nice. Even better would be some of the specials and offers that appear on the home page (although I realize this would require this page to be updated on a regular basis).
Let's also talk a little bit about that coupon. As a consumer, it was great to get the immediate gratification of having it right there on the thank you page. But as a marketer, I would have preferred to use it to help drive the double opt-in and ensure we got a legitimate e-mail address. Including the coupon on the double opt-in confirm page would (a) provide one more enticement for people to respond to the double opt-in e-mail and (b) make sure that the requirement - signing up to receive e-mail - was fully met before the reward was provided.
Bottom line: while there's much to like about Essential Apparel's efforts, there are small, inexpensive things it could do to improve the subscriber's experience and increase its list growth.
Until next time!
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Jeanne Jennings is a 20 year veteran of the online/email marketing industry, having started her career with CompuServe in the late 1980s. As Vice President of Global Strategic Services for Alchemy Worx, Jennings helps organizations become more effective and more profitable online. Previously Jennings ran her own email marketing consultancy with a focus on strategy; clients included AARP, Hasbro, Scholastic, Verizon and Weight Watchers International. Want to learn more? Check out her blog.
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